Israel: Netanyahu Announces Formation of New Govt

Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday told Israeli Pres. Isaac Herzog that he has succeeded in forming a new government. The announcement signals the return to power of Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister at the helm of what is reportedly the most far-right coalition in Israel's history.

Israel: Netanyahu Announces Formation of New Govt
Image credit: Reuters [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday told Israeli Pres. Isaac Herzog that he has succeeded in forming a new government. The announcement signals the return to power of Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister at the helm of what is reportedly the most far-right coalition in Israel's history.
  • Netanyahu's announcement came minutes before a midnight Wednesday deadline and followed weeks of negotiations with far-right coalition partners. The PM-designate was unseated in January 2021 over corruption investigations, but his coalition won 64 seats in Israel's 120-member parliament, the Knesset, after Israelis cast ballots on Nov. 1 for the fifth time in four years.
  • The coalition government will be comprised of Netanyahu's Likud party, the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism [UTJ], and the far-right factions Otzma Yehudit, Religious Zionists Party [RZP], and Noam. The new cabinet is due to be sworn in by Jan. 2.
  • The new government's composition and reported plans to give parliament greater powers that could allow it to overrule court rulings have raised concerns both in Israel and abroad, with critics viewing it as a possible blow to the judiciary's independence.
  • Netanyahu's coalition partners are also said to oppose the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while the leader of the Religious Zionism party advocated the annexation of the West Bank, which Israel occupied along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war.
  • Meanwhile, Netanyahu's agreement to hand over control of parts of the military bureaucracy and security forces in the West Bank to far-right allies is said to have already created tensions with the Israeli military, whose chief of staff expressed fears that the move would disrupt the army's chain of command.

Sources: Al Jazeera, FOX News, Haaretz, Reuters, BBC News, and New York Times.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by New York Times. To stay in power, corruption-plagued Netanyahu has bowed to the demands of the most extreme elements of Israeli politics. His concessions to ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties are a massive blow to Israeli democracy, the rule of law, and thus to the future of Israel. Moreover, by rejecting the two-state solution, the new government is poised to risk fresh Arab-Israeli violence. It's time for Washington to end its ambiguity about Israel and stand up for democracy, as it otherwise does all over the world.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Times of Israel. Even before the new Israeli government is sworn in, media activists have warned that it poses a threat to Israeli democracy. However, these critics ignore the fact that Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East and that it was the Israelis who wished Netanyahu back in power. Washington should think twice before joining the doomsayers' camp and alienating its closest ally in the region. Instead of jumping to conclusions and demonizing the coalition government, the actual political work should be evaluated as it happens.
  • Narrative C, as provided by Haaretz. Even if everyone seems to agree that Netanyahu would do anything to stay in power and out of prison, the coalition is ultimately an expression of the voters' will. One thing is certain: Given the negative tendencies in Israeli politics, "Bibi" is the last hope for the survival of liberal Israeli democracy. Now he will have to prove whether he is up to the historic task of keeping Israel from turning into an apartheid state.